Don't Miss vol. 32.2 Available Now!


welcome prose editors

We are excited to announce our new prose editors Elizabeth Brown (Fiction) and Sara Fredman (Nonfiction). Both editors will be great additions to the december team. We’d also like to thank Sara Ross who was our prose editor in 2017/2018. She has moved on to new endeavors and will be missed.

Elizabeth K. Brown holds an MFA in Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. Her work has been published in Brevity magazine, Essay DailyEdible Iowa River Valley and Edible Berkshires magazines. She is a contributor to They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Originally from southeast Iowa, Brown is a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently at work on a three-act family drama, among other things.

Sara Fredman is a St. Louis-based freelance writer. She received her PhD in medieval English literature from WashU in 2017. Her essays have appeared in LongreadsThe RumpusTablet, and Lilith

from the vault: jerry figi

december Vol. 6 — 1964

Eve of November

The night is full of sharp things:
tiny teeth,
and iron fence-spikes
spearing wind.
Thorn trees scratch at the sky,
and hooves of a dark rider
bite blood from the ground.

Back-Yard Lobo

A dark dry wolf hangs his voice
on the moon,
sniffing stars and pinesol,
then goes on,
rubbing bellies with the earth,
where weeds are wet with sperm
and blood confounds the caterpillar,
where hips devour dandelions.
Back-yard lobo,
shaggy shadow of the city,
chummy with garbage cans,
stalker of iron deer.

Jerry (J. B., aka Jamil) Figi (1937-1999) was a Chicago-based writer, poet, and jazz critic. In an obituary published in 1999, John Litweiler wrote, “He was not a prolific writer, but he certainly was an influential one. His work first began appearing in small magazines in the early 1960s. He also wrote for John and Leni Sinclair’s short-lived magazine called Change, which was devoted to the new jazz of the mid-’60s.” Figi also wrote a jazz column for Coda magazine and liner notes for record companies. In addition, he wrote for Downbeat and was a staff record reviewer. Figi would later serve as one of the directors for the Jazz Institute of Chicago, working on, amongst other things, the Chicago Jazz Festival.

new poetry editor

december welcomes Jacqui Germain to the december team as our new poetry editor.  Jacqui brings a wealth of experience with her to this new venture and we are excited to work with her. She is a St. Louis-based poet and freelance writer, with work appearing in several literary journals, anthologies, and media outlets. She’s the author of When the Ghosts Come Ashore, published in 2016 through Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press, and has received fellowships from Callaloo, the Poetry Foundation’s Emerging Poets Incubator, and Jack Jones Literary Arts. You can learn more about Jacqui at her website

We’d like to thank Jen Tappenden for her service as poetry editor for the past four years. She is taking her expertise and energy and moving on to other projects and we will miss her!  You can follow her and see what she is up to here

Robley Wilson (1930-2018)

We mourn the passing of Robley Wilson, whose first published poems (ever!) appeared in december in 1958. When we announced our revival in 2013, Robley sent us this email: “When I saw the december logo as it emerged from my mailbox, I was unexpectedly back in Iowa City, 55 years ago. How fine that you’re bringing it back to life. I hope the revived december flourishes.”





Eight hours nameless, seven hours unwept,
Thees ashes cool past recollection. Now
The picket lines of blistered birch allow
No smothered footfall where the flames have swept,
And in this blackened grove at a pathway’s end
The daybreak fog will mourn without a sound.
Noise enough when gray wings beat the ground
And burst with strength, but could not rise again.

Eight hours nameless, seven hours unwept,
These ashes cool. For what your tears are worth,
The vanity of loving is a sin
In men. These fell from love, and so begin
Learning upon this furnace floor of earth
A tongueless sleep the phoenix never slept.

-Robley Conant Wilson
From december Vol. 1.2, May 1958

2019 poetry contest judge — kim addonizio

We’re pleased to announce Kim Addonizio as our 2019 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize judge.

Kim Addonizio is the author of seven poetry collections, two novels, two story collections, and two books on writing poetry, The Poet’s Companion (with Dorianne Laux) and Ordinary Genius. She has received fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, and was a National Book Award Finalist for her collection Tell Me. Her latest books are Mortal Trash: Poems (W.W. Norton) and a memoir, Bukowski in a Sundress (Penguin). Addonizio also has two word/music CDs: Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing (with Susan Browne) and My Black Angel, a companion to My Black Angel: Blues Poems & Portraits, featuring woodcuts by Charles D. Jones.

2018 curt johnson prose awards judges

We are pleased to announce our judges for the 2018 Curt Johnson Prose Awards. Submissions open March 1, see our contest page for more information.

Anne Tyler is the Best-selling author of Breathing Lessons, The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and more than 20 other books; winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence.



Dinty W. Moore is a renowned author, essayist, and educator; winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize for his memoir Between Panic and Desire; editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, and editorial board member of Creative Nonfiction magazine.

2018 pushcart nominations

Here at december, we are grateful for all our contributors. When Pushcart time comes it’s never easy to select our Pushcart nominations because we love everything we print. After much deliberation between our editors and staff we finally chose our nominees for 2018. Major congratulations to these writers and major thanks to everyone who is part of the december community.



Zeeva Bukai – The Abandoning (Fiction – Vol. 28.2)
Marci Callabretta Cancio-Bella – Nocturne: Year of the Snake  (Nonfiction – Vol. 28.1)
Franny Choi – Pastoral Poem (Poetry – Vol. 28.1)
Sandra Hunter – Fishers of Men (Fiction – Vol. 28.1)
Marge Piercy – Between, neither sleeping nor awake (Poetry – Vol. 28.1)
Kiley Reid – Parent Night at Confidence Academy (Fiction – Vol. 28.1)

don’t miss us in austin!

december will be in the big state of Texas, November 2-5.  We love meeting our submitters, subscribers, contributors, and supporters and we’d love to see you there.

If you are in (or near) Austin you can catch us November 2 at CamibaArt for our Vol. 28.2 launch party.  Join us for food, drinks, and poetry from three recent contributors.  Readers will include Michael Anania, Harold Whit Williams, and Tim Krcmarik.  This event is free and open to the public and includes complimentary appetizer buffet and bar. More info here.


If you can’t make it to the reading we hope to see you at the Texas Book Festival.  November 4 & 5 at the Capitol.  The Texas Book Festival is FREE and open to the public. Click here for more info. One of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country, the annual Texas Book Festival features 250+ nationally and critically recognized adult and children’s authors, 20+ venues including the State Capitol, 80+ exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and countless opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers. More info here.

2018 poetry contest judge — luis javier rodriguez

We are excited to announce Luis Javier Rodriguez as the judge of our 2018 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize. Los Angeles Poet Laureate from 2014-16, Luis is an award-winning poet, novelist, journalist, critic, columnist, and social activist. He is the author of four poetry collections. His memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He is the founder of Tía Chucha Press and Tía Chucha Cultural Center in San Fernando.



2018 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize submissions open October 1st. For more information and contest guidelines click here.

an interview with leigh camacho rourks

Leigh Camacho Rourks lives in South Louisiana and on her best days can be found lazing in the sun. She is the managing editor for Rougarou, a journal of literature and arts out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she is pursuing her PhD. Her essay “How Fragile the Land” was a finalist for december’s 2015 Curt Johnson Prose Awards and appeared in Volume 27.1. Her short story “Moon Trees” was awarded the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and her story “Pinched Magnolias” received the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize in Fiction. Her work has appeared  in a number of journals including Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Pank, and Greensboro Review.

Leigh says she feels a strong connection to nature and the environment around her. She is particularly concerned about the environmental situation in her home state of Louisiana and hopes to educate others about it through her writing and advocacy. “How Fragile the Land,” addresses these very concepts — you can read it here. John Bel Edwards, the governor of Louisiana, recently declared a state of emergency over state’s disappearing coastline. Leigh hopes to bring awarenesses of these issues to her own community and beyond. To learn more about Louisiana’s disappearing coastline click here.


What are you getting your PhD in?


Creative writing. The PhD program at the University of Lafayette is a generalist program. You have to not only work within your field, so not just in creative writing, but also in other fields. Literature and critique and the like. My dissertation will be a creative piece with a critical intro, and my interests are things that deal with craft theory and the way we put together stories. I also have an MFA so this is an extension beyond that.


What do you like to read for pleasure?


I have very wide tastes. I read sci-fi and fantasy. I read science books, nonfiction books about science history. I read a lot of Southern and gulf coast lit and grit lit. I tend to read three books at a time and right now I’m re-reading Douglas Adams’ Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, I’m reading the Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould, and I just started, I’m on the first few pages of rereading Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. I like to turn on different parts of my brain.


Do you have a writing routine and, if so, what is it?


I tend to write in the middle of the day when possible, which is a luxury of the jobs that I’ve had. I was in a workshop and the person running it asked everyone when are you most creative? Most people said early in the morning or late at night, and I said, about 2:00 in the afternoon. Everybody looked at me like I was an alien. Apparently, I was the first person to ever say that. I like to write in the middle of the afternoon, if not then I stay up late at night doing it. I usually sit on my couch in front of the TV with a movie that I’ve seen 6,000 times, or playing music, or I like to write in coffee shops and daytime bars. There is this really interesting thing about bars that are open during the day. They usually have this older, regular group of just three or four people and they are fairly quiet except for those people talking and enjoying themselves and there is nice lighting, usually not too dark and not too light and I just feel comfortable and I get to eavesdrop on great and bizarre conversations.


Which writer or writers have had the most impact on your own development as a writer?


Tom Franklin is one of the most influential writers for me. I am madly, madly in love with his work and the way he uses place to inform us about the pressures on his characters and help us identify and like these characters that we really shouldn’t identify with and like. So he’s had a huge influence on me as an adult. And then there are the people I read as child who had a huge influence on me. Madeleine L’Engle — her humor and seriousness and interest in science and place. Tim Gautreaux, who was actually one of my teachers, and then years later I was reading his novel “The Missing” and he uses smell in it and the way he uses it is really amazing and it made me think, why am I ignoring this sense? Now, when I’m writing, I think, “What would Tim Gautreaux do?”


How do your personal experiences show up in your work, particularly in your fiction? I was reading some of your other work in Kenyon Review and Tri-quarterly Review and I noticed there were characters some readers might think are pretty edgy and I was curious where those characters come from and how your personal experience informs that.


That’s one of those questions that you know someone is going to ask you eventually and you think, “how do I answer this for the wide world?” Part of it has to do with where I grew up and the way I grew up. I grew up in South Florida in the 80s and 90s and it was a wilder, edgier place. I was a quiet kid (even though I talked a lot), but I didn’t always hang out with quiet kids and I sometimes maybe ran with the crowd that people would say were the wrong crowd. Then we moved to Louisiana and I was really angry and rebellious and sad a lot. I quit college, I was waitressing. I lived in apartments with not just two other people, but ten other people and friends of friends of friends. I met a wide scope of human beings and one of the things that has always struck me is the way that people who live below the middle-class are seen. I was in a workshop once and someone was talking about another person’s story and said, “I don’t believe this character, I don’t believe this character would know these words.” The character was a poor girl in Oklahoma or something and I was really offended. The idea you are 100% one way or another has always bothered me, like if you are edgy you can’t be smart as well. I feel like the more people you know, the more you want to show this wide range of life. Another way my experience shows up is I like to trounce around the swamp a lot. I live on this amazing land and the outdoors — snakes and things like that — always show up in my writing, because I can go in my backyard and see them. There’s a big influence of the dangerous and natural elements that end up in my stuff.


Have you experienced any times when you could not write or were not writing before?


Oh yes, absolutely, for many different reasons. I’m not one of those people that is maniacally driven to write. I’m actually very jealous of those people. I have to force myself to do it. I wanted to be a writer as a kid, but that seemed ridiculous. I mean, who’s a writer? I didn’t know any writers. That wasn’t a real thing to me. I knew a lot of books, but I was going to be other things. I didn’t write at all then, and then I went back to school and I wrote again and then I worked and I wrote advertising copy for a real estate firm. Then I went back to school and I did write and I graduated and I taught. I was teaching mostly comp classes at a university and I didn’t write at all. I completely quit. It wasn’t in me. For a long time, I alternated between either writing or working. Then I went back to school for my MFA. I did a low-residency program through Pacific University and it taught me to write while working. It was the best thing I could have done. It taught me how to be a writer in a world where I had to work, but I still had to get my packets in. And now it’s easier to write all the time because I’ve learned the discipline.


What do you do for fun or relaxation?


I really like television. I watch a lot of TV and not necessarily good television. I like bad sitcoms. I like old sci-fi shows. I’m rewatching “Buffy (the Vampire Slayer)” for the thirtieth time. That’s not very intellectual or terribly interesting, but that’s one of the things I do because I can just turn off my brain and enjoy the storytelling. Of course, I read. I go for walks. I walk a lot and when possible I like to get out in nature and bring my camera. I go look at alligator. That’s a weird hobby, but that’s one of my hobbies. We go out to this place called Lake Martin and look for alligators. I also cook. I like to cook a lot.


Is there anything that you haven’t written yet that you want to? Anything you want to try and write, but you haven’t done it yet?


I’d like to try more creative nonfiction. There are a lot more true stories I would like to tell. I’d really like to do some journalistic nonfiction where I go out and learn other people’s stories and tell them. I’d love to do some magical realism to throw myself into something wild and weird and wonderful and I haven’t really done that, though people say I get close to it, but I haven’t thrown myself into it.


Are there any subjects in particular that you want to tackle? Big issues etc.?


I finished my first novel recently and I just started my second novel and I think partially in the background it will deal with the Bayou Corne Sinkhole. There is this gigantic sinkhole in Louisiana that is an environmental disaster and people have been displaced and it’s very scary. I would definitely like to write more about the environment, I know that is a topic I have technically talked about, but I would like to dig deeper in certain subjects. It’s usually whatever I’m curious about at the time. I like to start my projects from a place of curiosity.


What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?


Read! I know everybody says that. There is just so much pushback from it and there is this mythology out there that if you take in too many other voices that you’ll lose your own and I think that is really dangerous and damaging. So read, that’s my first advice. My second bit is that it’s ok if you don’t do things the way other people do. I hear a lot of advice that is like, “you’ll never be a writer IF,” for example, “you’ll never be a writer if you don’t keep a journal.” I’ve never kept a journal. I knew that didn’t work for me (and I tried). Try things you hear, but don’t beat yourself up about it and quit if that’s not the thing for you. Another thing that didn’t work for me was get up early and write every morning. That’s not who I am and I know that and I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Try things, fail at them, fail spectacularly because that’s what learning is and it’s ok if you have to do things your own way and find your patterns. Fail, fail spectacularly, write bad things, and just keep on writing. Writing is hard work, it is something you can learn and work hard and get better at, and part of hard work is failure. I think that would be my big one. I have a learning disability called a disorder of written expression, and if I had listened to people who said you’re born a writer, I don’t think I would have bothered. Just do it! I hate to “NIKE” this all up, but do it and study and listen to other people when they tell you things you don’t want to hear, that might be when you need to listen to them the most.


You are the editor of Rougarou, which is what?


It’s the journal run by PhD students at Lafayette. We’ve just relaunched. It’s an international online journal. Submit! We don’t publish anyone in the university. It is all outside work.


Because you are an editor (and we are editors here) and you’re a writer, what do you think the literary community — writers like you, publications like us, and Rougarou — can do to expand the audience for good literature?


I think one of the things is we have to get rid of our assumptions that only writers read. I think that is an assumption that we walk in the door with, that we know our audience, that we have a specific audience and we are trying to expand to another audience. A good example of this is I have some friends and family members that upon meeting them people would not expect them to be “literary” readers. They are very kind and they read all the stuff I publish and then they say, I really liked that WHOLE journal, I read all the short stories in there. So I bought them subscriptions for Christmas, so I think remembering our audience can be bigger if we talk to all potential and show them what we have. Now, how to show them what we have and how to talk to them is the harder question. I wonder how many of us are inviting our friends and family to read these things that we would normally target to our writer friends. If you really think about what your friends and family like, it’s easy to hand them a poem or short story they would like and you aren’t trying to teach them anything, it’s important to not be condescending and just do the same kind of sharing you would do with your writer friends.


And finally my last question, what is your favorite snack food during a writing frenzy?


Oh my god, so hard! I love food so much. I just ate some cherries, so all I can think of is cherries, but I only eat those a couple of times a year. I’m a candy hog so I try not to keep it in the house too much, but my favorite grading food is Reese’s and I’ll eat the whole bag so I can’t make that my favorite writing food. I have to say fruit! I’ll keep it at fruit for writing.

Managing Editor Jennifer Goldring interviewed Leigh Camacho Rourks for the this installment of december’s contributor interview.